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Players With Jewish or Israeli Connections in World Cup 2014: Round One

June 17, 2014 By:
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Kyle Beckerman, a Jewish holding midfielder for the United States, played an important role in the American's 2-1 victory over Ghana on June 16. Screenshot.

Last week the Exponent published an article showcasing soccer players in the 2014 World Cup with Jewish or Israeli connections.

Here’s how they fared in their first set of games:

Mario Balotelli, the Ghanaian-born Italian striker adopted by a Jewish family, scored the decisive second goal in Italy’s 2-1 victory against England on June 14, in what proved to be a thumping encounter between the two sides. It was, surprisingly, only the third meeting between the two world soccer powerhouses in a World Cup draw.

Balotelli’s headed goal came five minutes into the second half to give the Italians the win.

Italy’s next match will take place on June 20 against a Costa Rican team fresh off a 3-1 upset against Uruguay.

Nigerian goalkeeper Austin Ajide watched on from the bench as teammate Juwon Oshaniwa played an important role in Nigeria’s 0-0 tie against Iran.

The two countrymen play for the Israeli Premier League's Hapoel Be’ersheva and Ashdod, respectively.

Nigeria will face Bosnia-Herzegovina on June 21.

Finally, Kyle Beckerman, a Jewish holding midfielder on the U.S. national team, played a full 90 minutes and helped stave off a determined Ghana side to hold on for a 2-1 victory.

The Americans immediately jumped out to the lead when team captain Clint Dempsey scored a goal only 38 seconds into the contest. Wave after wave of Ghanaian offensive attacks followed as the United States held onto its fragile advantage before Ghana’s Andre Ayew finally leveled the score with a goal with only eight minutes left on the clock.

The United States stole the lead back four minutes later thanks to substitute defender John Brooks’ header off a corner before holding on until the final whistle.

A difficult June 22 encounter against a Portugal team featuring Cristiano Ronaldo is next for the Americans.

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